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A Parable about Contributing to the Well Being of Society

As silly as it sounds, I think Republicans truly believe that people wouldn't bother being healthy if they didn't think it was giving them an advantage over their neighbors!
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There are many reasons I support Democratic policies over Republican ones, but one of the most important to me is their stances on health. Now, of course, both parties agree that it is better for Americans to be healthy than not. That's not the issue. The issue comes down to what parties believe they should do about it and what they perceive to be the goal of increasing the health of the nation.

There will always be some Americans that are more healthy than others. Some of the healthiest Americans got to be that way because of a combination of the family they were born into, good habits, hard work, and smart choices. But, we all have to acknowledge that luck plays a role as well. There are many examples of healthy individuals that, through an unfortunate accident, lose most or all of their health. There is a baseline of health, below which is hard to live a comfortable existence, and to contribute to and benefit from society.

Republican policies reward the healthiest Americans and ignore those who are less healthy. Their attitude seems to be that healthy Americans are healthy solely as a result of their virtuous habits. Those less healthy are that way due to some sort of character defect and are not worthy of help from the rest of society. Furthermore, their policies are consistent with the belief that what really matters is relative health -- how healthy a person is compared to his neighbors. Thus, they would not mind a society where everyone is less healthy, as long as the healthiest people are much better off than the least healthy. Being healthier than someone else is used as an incentive for people to adopt lifestyle habits that increase their own health. As silly as it sounds, I think Republicans truly believe that people wouldn't bother being healthy if they didn't think it was giving them an advantage over their neighbors!

Democrats, in contrast, encourage Americans to measure their health in absolute terms and support policies that would make all Americans healthier. They expect, even demand, that the healthiest citizens use the resources gained from their increased health to give less fortunate members in society a chance to become more healthy. Of course, it doesn't work to simply "transfer" health from one person to another -- lasting health requires fundamental changes---instead, it would come from people using the abilities their health gives them to create healthy opportunities for others.

Republicans dismissively and cynically call the Democrats' approach "redistribution of health", but, in fact, historical data supports the claim that the healthiest members of society do not suffer at all under such policies. It's not a zero-sum game. While they don't become any more healthy, their efforts serve to increase the health of the rest of the nation, resulting in an overall healthier atmosphere and the myriad benefits it brings to everyone.

I support Democratic policymakers because I believe our reward for creating a healthier society is more health for all. Like them, I'm not the kind of person who feels good about his health only if he's better off than his neighbor. Doesn't that make the Republican view of health sound rather petty and short sighted?

Oops, wait a second. I was talking about wealth, not health. But, I believe my point is still valid. The moral of the story is that, whether we are talking about health or wealth, wouldn't we rather live in society where we are all better off than we could be, not just better off than those less fortunate?